Great Service breeds Great Loyalty

loyalty-word-blackboard-single-45759567.jpgIf you give a customer great service and they enjoy their interaction with your business, you are building up loyalty in that customer. And loyalty is very important! I was reminded of this as I visited the barbershop I have been using for the past 10 years, despite moving further away. I’d like to share my thoughts on customer service and loyalty.

For me at the barber, I experienced great service by a welcoming atmosphere, greeted by a smile. He remembers my name and what’s going on in my life to ask how things are going. He remembers the way I like my hair cut, but doesn’t assume anything. He is happy to bend ‘rules’ of opening times or how long he spends on doing my hair or what happens if I forgot my money and it might be a simple scenario but it all makes for a great experience that keeps me coming back.

Characteristics of a loyal customer

A loyal customer will:

  • Put up with inconveniences like further/longer travel and limited support to return to your business because that’s where they feel comfortable. I travel past several other hairdressers to get to my preferred barber and put up with a limited window of opening hours I can actually get there outside work because I like it there and I feel comfortable going there. I only visit a couple of times a year, but he remembers my name and what’s going on in my life. He knows how I like my hair cut and is always friendly to deal with.
  • Not be swayed by sales and gimmicks other companies might use to try and draw their business. Unless it’s a huge difference, it doesn’t matter if they can save money elsewhere, people are resistant to change and so will stick with what they already know and love. I could get a cheaper haircut, but I like the way my barber does it and I value the relationship I have with him.
  • Be an ambassador for your business as they tell their friends about how great your business is and encourage them to try for themselves. Word will quickly spread when your loyal customer tells their friends about you, who then tell their friends and so on. One positive customer interaction can have great power in promoting your business, just as one negative interaction can cause great damage. I would happily recommend my barber to others.

What makes a loyal customer?

So how do you convert a regular customer into a loyal customer? Sometimes you might be able to buy loyalty through Rewards or Loyalty programs or bulk discounts. But this is short-lived as soon as someone else offers a better program. Instead, it’s all about the service you provide.

Make your service personal, showing that you value the customer and their individual needs. Remember the person when they return to your business so they know their presence was felt and their follow up visit is easier because they don’t have to repeat context like their name and preferences. Do this and you will go a long way towards building a sense of loyalty which will benefit your business in the long run.

What about you?

What companies are you loyal to and what was it about them that influenced you? What do companies need to be doing better at in this area?
I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.

The Champion for Quality

victory-clipart-II-400x400Being the Champion for Quality doesn’t mean being the only one who cares about it, the only one who does anything to improve it or even the one who is best at improving quality (though that might be true). The Champion for Quality is the voice of motivation and direction for the team to create a high quality product. That’s how I picture the role of a QA/Tester.

You’re the Voice

In the words of Aussie Legend John Farnham, “You’re the Voice”:

ASK what people consider as important for quality so that you know what areas you should focus on to deliver this. Is it more important for the product to be fast than accurate? Is it expected to handle a large amount of users? What sort of failures are acceptable and what are unacceptable?

TEACH people that quality matters. In order to achieve the level of quality desired in the target ideas identified above, the whole team needs to be on board. Show people the full story, how a lapse of quality in 1 area eventually leads to a negative customer experience and then a negative experience for the company.
Teach them about cutting corners now leading to more work later on to do it right.
This shows them the importance of their work and makes them feel a bigger part of the company and encourages them to put in the extra effort now, not later.

TRAIN people in how to build a quality product (by your definition of quality) by giving them the tools they need, the test cases, the conditions to experiment with, a peer to review and a clear understanding of what they need to do to ensure they are creating a high quality product.

Be the Champion of Quality in your team, Ask, Teach and Train!